Ah, I first want to say, thank you for acknowledging those problems so openly. That's why I love StarDock.
Let's see what your idea would solve:
1. Building a city, and suddenly running out of tiles with no way to get more.
Doesn't solve it.
2. Plopping down an outpost to harvest a resource 4 tiles from another city.
Does with low level governours.
3. Forcing the player Snaking a trail of small improvements over to
Does with the ability to build harvest buildings afar.
4. Easily growing and reaching new city levels, where all outposts will eventually become huge cities.
Does, with level limit on governours.
5. Even though it costs Essence to make land livable, city spam is still completely viable in Elemental.
Does, with limit on number of governours.
Five out of four, pretty good I'd say.
I really like it that you'd need a governour for every city, it would really help in preserving wilderness and empty areas on the map.
- or, if these aren't available, the Succession system kicks in and the city is given to the a neighbor capable of handling the settlement
I don't like that, since it could give a city in the middle of your kingdom to another player just by the bad luck of losing a heroe. Imho a city without a suitable governour should just become unrulable, ie. you can't do anything with it and don't gain anything from it till you can send a new proconsul. But it would still count as your territory and the soldiers there would still be under your command (different chain of command). Only after a longer time of not getting any replacement ruler, a city should be able to either declare independency (become neutral) or join another faction if they've an appropriate ruler to send and only if that other faction is close by.
So a player has a chance to easily get one's city back but if you don't act, you'll lose it eventually for good.
Allowing resource tapping improvements, and them only, to be built away from the main city hub. The obvious benefits that you wouldn't have to build another city to tap it, AND you wouldn't have to 'snake' your improvements to get there, but the improvement WOULD NOT be defended by whatever walls and stationed units the city had available, so there's a major risk in doing so.s
Imho watchtowers should also be allowed to be built at a certain range (4-5 big tiles), harbours (1 big tile away only), castles (if there are any) to protect mountain passes for example and to station troops (2-3 big tiles).
I also think that the resource-outpost idea is a good one, but perhaps the outposts could be walled seperately? I just can't see an empire leaving a massive farming area 50 miles from thier city without even a basic garrison fort.
Then move some soldiers over there and station them yourselves if you think it's important enough.
I would like to suggest, though, that the outer resource improvements not be completely helpless. Yes, they're outside the walls and all, but I would like to see an option to send a force out from the city whenever such an improvement is threatened. Something like "sire, scouts report an army advancing on our farm to the south. Should we dispatch troops to protect it?" with the option of selecting some or all of the units garrisoned in the city to immediately move to the farm in question and enter a tactical battle/ quick resolve rather than just lose the farm. Essentially, an attack on the farm would still be an attack on the city, but the defender could choose to fight the battle without the aid of his city defenses, or just let the attacker have the farm.
Disagree heavily with that. If you want stuff outside your city defended, then move some soldiers there for protection. Having unprotected stuff outside of cities would make raiding a viable mechanic instead of just assaults on cities.
Now to go wild on the succession system for a moment. When a faction surrenders, how about cities with sons and daughters of other sovereigns as rulers go to their parents factions, instead of having the whole defeated faction surrender as a whole?
So instead of, oh, faction B surrender to faction A, here faction A, get 5 new cities.
It would be like, faction B surrenders. Faction A gets 2 cities governed by grandsons of faction A's sovereign while faction C gets one city ruled by the grand-grand daughter of the sovereign of faction C and 2 cities would go neutral, since they were governed by heroes who had no allegiance to anybody special.